A good Canadian sports bargain at Summit Series 1972
At a time when the cost of living is rising, everything is more expensive and even a single evening is expensive, let’s take a minute to celebrate the greatest bargain in sports history.
Yes, the biggest.
“Of course it was,” says Mike Alkerton.
It was 1972. The Summit Series era. You’ve probably heard a lot about this hockey tournament between Canada and the Soviet Union lately as this month marks the 50th anniversary of Paul Henderson’s goal, which remains the most important in the history of our country. .
As you probably know, the first four games of this epic showdown were played in Canada. Then the series shifted to the Soviet Union where something like 3,000 or 4,000 Canadians came for the trip – and generally drove the KGB agents in the arena crazy with their cheers and shouts.
These people had reservations well in advance. Many were there for the hockey. Most likely. But some just wanted to see the country again when everything was rather mysterious, very behind the iron curtain and otherwise inaccessible.
Alkerton was an electrician working in the soon-to-open Jackson Square — and still single — a few months before the series began. When he learned that charters were being offered to make the trip, the Dundas resident went to a nearby tour company over lunch one day.
“You’re the first person in Hamilton to sign up for this thing,” the agent told him.
He didn’t care. He quickly locked himself in. And why not ? The official tour put together by Hockey Canada was a wonderful package.
Yes, there were tickets for each of the four games. It’s pretty obvious. But that was only the tip of the spire of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
There were first class plane tickets with an open bar. There were transfers from the airport to the hotel and pretty much everywhere you went. There was accommodation for 10 days in what was described as a “first class” hotel.
Are you starting to add it again?
There were daily excursions – all inclusive – to places like the Kremlin Cathedrals, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Moscow Circus, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy, the National Museum of Fine Arts. Pushkin arts, Lenin’s tomb and more. All accompanied by a guide.
There were three meals a day. And you can even organize day trips to Leningrad or Kyiv for a modest fee.
So what do you think? How many thousands of dollars did it cost? Five? Ten?
“Six hundred and forty-four dollars,” said Alkerton.
It was actually $649, but pretty close.
Admittedly, times have changed and things are more expensive today. Still, $649? For everything? Even with inflation, it’s a real steal.
The whole thing cost less than Alkerton says he made in a week with all the overtime he was putting in. It was so cheap that RCA apparently gave away 100 of these trips to dealers across the country as a thank you for their hard work selling their electronic gear.
Considering what has become of this series, it is difficult to imagine the price could have been. Or should have been. If the Soviets knew a little more about capitalism, of course.
Only today’s first-class flights and nice hotels could cost you around $16,000, says Richard Vanderlubbe, president of TripCentral.ca.
“You go back to Soviet times when economics didn’t make sense,” he says.
Then you add the most anticipated and talked about hockey series in history. When you consider that a set of ticket stubs – just the torn ends of a few pieces of paper – for the four games in Russia are currently selling for over $9,000 on eBay, you get an idea of how crazy the ticket prices are. . obtained. Individual heels cost nearly $2,000.
As for a paltry $649 for the whole thing? Give it today and all of Canada is on the plane.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Alkerton.
Even 50 years later, it’s not hard to see why.